Words: Lou Boyd
When trying to think of somewhere in the UK to surf, hike, trail bike and basically get away for a week of two, the same places come into everyone minds. Cornwall, Snowdonia, Scotland….
These places are famous for a reason, they’re awesome, vast and full of adventure, however that means that now, they’re also full of other people.
Visiting Wildernest cottages in West Wales, I expected from its name that they would be somewhat out of the way.
What I didn’t expect was to find was an undiscovered corner of the UK, full of incredible views, winding coastal paths and not another soul in sight.
This pocket of Wales seems to be the UK adventurer’s secret spot.
While not a top destination spot for outdoor pursuits, it has all the equipment it needs to be one.
Speaking to mountain bikers, hikers and surfers alike, they all agree that it holds some of the best secret spots in the country, but they won’t spill where they are. Now I understand why.
With only a short time to spend, we decided to reject any time-consuming sports and opt for the simplest type of adventure, a day long walk in the wilderness.
Heading out into the hills, we went through the small village around a mile away from Wildernest and into the countryside on the otherside.
Over the next three hours we walked through overgrown meadow and up steep hills. Followed hidden streams, discovered country houses, disappeared into huge forests and finally arrived at a coastal paths around beautiful and derserted beaches.
During the whole walk we saw only one other person, we had the whole of the amazing countryside all to ourselves and there wasn’t a guide shop or tea room (or building for that matter) in sight.
Mid Wales may well be where the adventures are at.
Staying in a renovated barn,our retreat back from our adventures each day was at Wildernest, hidden away in the hills.
Sat in a meadow, the buildings used to be home to a spiritual retreat, but now are a holiday hideaway, made up of two cottages and a large barn room for parties and dinners and an old school airstream in its own seperate field.
Arriving at Wildernest, you feel a little like you’ve been dropped into a childrens book.
Opening the doors in the morning to head out over the hills or towards the cliffs and beaches, you are greeted by a plethora of different farm animals, (so many you feel you should start singing nursery rhymes as you walk out and down the path.)
From geese and farm dogs, to cows and wild horses, as a city kid I found it startling to wake up in the morning and be greeted by friendly animal faces at the kitchen door.
The geese wanted to have a fist fight, the cows wanted to come over for a selfie, the wild horses wandered freely in the backgorund, you feel yourself falling into the beat of the place as you spend more time there.
One of the most awesome aspects of Wildernest, is the care and detail you can see in every aspect of each building.
Owners Hugh and June renovated and rebuilt all the building themselves, with the help of their children and friends.
As an architect, Hugh designed how each building should look and has kept many original features in place. The outcome is one of a very cool, modern and kooky barn house, set in a minature natural haven.
Even more than I loved the way the houses looked, I loved their ultimate focus on eco living.
The main farmhouse and the outhouses are with timber frames and work to make all their systems autonomous.
On site there is a small sustainable, working farm and the houses even get some of their energy from their own in site windmill.
Living in the countryside, in such close proximity to both nature and the animals that live in it, knowing that you’re not damaging the ecosystems around you, its easy to forget about returning to city life whatsoever!
However, after a few days living at Wildernest we had to leave the cows, horses, fields and beaches for the train to London.
This hideaway is the perfect mix of dreamy den to chill out in and unchartered countryside to explore, the perfect place for days on end of outdoor adventure and escape!
Stay in Cuddfan or Ty Twt self-catering cottages at Wildernest with Sawday’s from £380 per week, based on two sharing – www.sawdays.co.uk / 01570 471 725. For more information or to see the full Wild Wales collection visit www.sawdays.co.uk/wildwales